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Government for free supply of essential medicines

Posted on Oct 03, 09:46PM | IANS

To provide affordable healthcare, the government has proposed free supply of essential medicines in public health facilities, union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Ghulam Nabi Azad said Wednesday.

The minister said this would reduce out-of-pocket expenses on medicines.

Essential medicines are those that satisfy priority healthcare needs of the population. They are selected with due regard to public health relevance, evidence on efficacy and safety, and comparative cost-effectiveness.

"This initiative will promote rational use of medicines and reduce the consumption of inessential, unscientific and hazardous medicines," said an official statement quoting Azad, who was speaking in the Netherlands Wednesday at a conference on "Responsible Use of Medicines".

Azad said that responsible and rational use of medicines is crucial, and should form part of national health policy. Access to medicines is one of the vital tools to improve and maintain health, the minister said.

He said that a fine balance has to be maintained between the private sector which operates on the demands of the market and the responsibility of the State for ensuring a positive benefit-risk profile of available medicines.

The minister said there is large out-of-pocket expenditure on health in India, of which a great part is on medicine.

Azad said that India is facing an increasing threat of anti-microbial resistance, and to tackle the threat and also to promote rational and responsible use of antibiotics, the ministry had developed the "National Policy for Containment of Anti Microbial Resistance".

The policy aims at prudent use of antibiotics and the prevention of drug resistance and spread or transmission of resistant bacteria.